When we go to a restaurant, we expect great service. When we purchase clothing, we expect great service. When we get work done on our home, we expect great service. There is a theme here.
Regardless of what we do, we expect great service. When it comes to healthcare, we also expect great service. From the time we call for an appointment, to the person who greets us upon arrival, to the time spent in the waiting room, to the interaction with the provider, to receiving the bill.
While every individual may have a different definition and perception of great service – we still expect our service expectations to be met, or even exceeded.
For Holy Family Memorial, providing an exceptional patient experience is our number one priority. Accomplishing this pertains to achieving an ideal culture for our employees, providers, and volunteers; and having high quality service. Taken together, ideal culture and high-quality service are what deliver an exceptional patient experience.
Like any other organization, we would love to say we are perfect at this; however, nobody is. In efforts to continually improve patient experience, there is work being done on the “front-end” of a patient encounter (before a patient sees a provider). This includes improving phone and customer service skills with enhanced training focused on acknowledging patients and family members, introducing ourselves to everyone, giving an accurate time duration for a visit, explaining step-by-step instructions, and thanking you for choosing HFM.
In addition to receiving quality care (which is an expectation), there are many other items patients and family members should expect from HFM or any other healthcare network and patient experience. While some may seem very basic, they are similar to any other service experience you encounter at a restaurant, store, etc.
Acknowledgment involves greeting patients and family members by name and making eye contact. Then, introducing yourself to explain who is serving the patient. Patients should then receive an accurate time duration for the entire visit, and if it is not known, updates should be communicated. Patients should then receive an explanation with step-by-step instructions for what is or will be done. Finally, thank patients and family members, expressing gratitude and empathy.
Once you are with the provider, there are similar patient experience expectations. In addition to a friendly greeting, introduction and acknowledgement of the patient and any family members; the provider should elicit patient concerns, thereby helping patients tell their story while listening intently.
During the visit, there should be active engagement with patients and family members by encouraging all to speak up and express concerns, collaborate on decisions, invest enough time, and use common and understandable language.
Providers should ask questions of patients to obtain information, explain any tests and possible diagnosis, and ask open-ended questions to ensure clear understanding by patients and family members.
When thinking about the basic items in the patient-healthcare network interaction, it is not much different than your interaction with someone at a restaurant, clothing store or any other interaction. We want those providing us with a service to ask good questions, listen intently, repeat back to ensure our understanding, provide great quality, and thank us.
It is these basic communication and relationship-building interactions which provide the difference from a good to a great patient experience. Coming to the hospital is typically not fun, so HFM must deliver an exceptional patient experience so you choose to return when needing services in the future.
/p>This is what has allowed us to serve the community for nearly 120 years. Thank you for the opportunity to provide an exceptional patient experience to those we do.
About the author.
David Yeghiaian is the Chief Culture & Strategy Officer at Holy Family Memorial. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.